Thu, 01 Jun 2023

Bhubaneshwar (Odisha) [India], August 2 (ANI): Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik unveiled the jersey of Odisha Juggernauts, the state's franchise in the first edition of the Ultimate Kho Kho League at the Kalinga Stadium, today, in the presence of the entire team, 5T (Secy), VK Pandian, Sports Secretary, R Vineel Krishna, and officials of Sports and Youth Services Department.

Chief Minister interacted with the coach and team players and wished them the very for their League ahead.

He said, "I congratulate and welcome each and every member to our Team Odisha Juggernauts. You all are now a part of our family and I wish you the very best for the League ahead. We, your Odia fans and supporters, will cheer for you from Odisha and hope to see you return with the coveted first edition trophy."Development and promotion of indigenous sports like Kho Kho has been a focus for Odisha and the State teams have performed commendably well at the National level. This venture will give added impetus to the sport in the state and draw more players especially from the rural belts, he added.

The new jersey will make its in-game debut at the first match of this inaugural season that will be played by Odisha Juggernauts on 15 August in Pune, Maharashtra.

The League will commence from August 14 and will continue till 4 September this year. The Odisha Sports Development and Promotion Company (OSDPC)-owned team Odisha Juggernauts will be the fifth franchise in the league and will be led by Head Coach Ashwani Kumar Sharma.

Odisha Juggernauts comprises 25 players with 6 players from Odisha in the state franchise and 10 in the League. OSDPC is collaborating with leading steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India Limited (AM/NS India) and will be working closely in Ultimate Kho Kho.

The Odisha Juggernauts team comprises of 25 players which include, Dipesh Vijay More, Suresh Kumar, Milind D Chavrekar, Mahesha. P, Suraj S Lande, Subhasis Santra, Gowtham MK, Aditya Kudale, Nilesh A Jadav, Shiv K Sen, Vishal, Arjun Singh, T Binod Kumar, Lipun Mukhi, Manoj N Ghotekar, Dinesh Naik, Mukesh Prajapat, Satish D, Jagannath Murmu, Dilip Khandavi, Avinash S Desai, Swayam S Parija, Gurjinder Singh, Siddheswar Tudu, Sukanth Singh.

Lilan Kumar Sahu will accompany the team as team manager.

Head Coach, Ashwani Kumar Sharma, shared, "I am grateful that the Odisha franchise chose me as the Head Coach for the first season of the Ultimate Kho-Kho League. We have a very balanced side and our pre-season camp in Bhubaneswar also went really well. Odisha has been doing really well in kho-kho and they have also medals in recent junior nationals and Khelo India Youth Games.

After interacting with Sports Secretary, R Vineel Krishna, I was impressed with the state's vision to promote indigenous sports at grassroots level. That motivated me to join the franchise. Our team is the only such team which is owned by a government. From this, one can understand how dedicated Odisha is to promote kho-kho. Together, we will make sure that we have a successful season ahead, he added.

Captain of the franchise and amongst the senior most players, Dipesh Vijay More, shared, "The trust that the coaches have bestowed on me by declaring me as the captain of Odisha Juggernauts is a big achievement. This is a new team but already feels deeply connected. My prime goal would be to give our very best and keep the team together and motivated at all times.""We have a really good team with some of India's top players like Milind Dilip Chavrekar and Gowtham MK. All the teams are equally balanced and the competition would be tough, but we assure that we will give our 100 per cent in each and every match. Do watch us and cheer for us," he added.

Jagannatha Murmu (Odia player - Grade A), shared, "Previously, we didn't have much facilities for kho-kho, but in recent years with the intervention of the government, our game has improved a lot and many players from Odisha have chosen to make a career out of kho-kho. In the draft, the Odisha franchise took me in their team and there cannot be anything better for an Odia to play for his home franchise. We have 6 Odia players in our squad of 25 and we along with all the coaches and players will make sure that we return to Bhubaneswar with a trophy." (ANI)

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